Thursday, 3 December 2015
Capricornia Electorate: Water
I rise in the House today to remind the people of Capricornia that I am in Canberra fighting for a significant share of Commonwealth support for water infrastructure projects. There are three key water infrastructure projects in my electorate that I would like to see developed in the coming years: Rookwood and Eden Bann weirs near Rockhampton, Connors River Dam between Sarina and Moranbah and Urannah Dam near Mackay, which would boost irrigation potential at Collinsville.
Today I want to highlight Rookwood and Eden Bann weirs in particular. The reason is that these two projects are the closest of any water infrastructure project in Queensland to being shovel ready—awaiting financial approval and not relying on the coal sector to proceed. I am fighting for Rookwood and Eden Bann to be one of the key water infrastructure projects developed in northern Australia to be approved next year. This project has the backing of the Vice-Chancellor of CQ University, Growing Central Queensland, the Regional Development Australia Fitzroy and Central West Committee, Capricorn Enterprise, Gladstone Area Water Board, Livingstone Shire Council and Rockhampton Regional Council. The future potential from these two weirs must not be underestimated. Rookwood and Eden Bann weirs have the potential to double agricultural production in the Fitzroy corridor from $1 billion to $2 billion, increase additional services and secondary industry in the area to three times the current size, and create a further 2,100 local jobs.
Rockhampton, Gladstone and Livingstone shires all need the weirs to secure a stable water supply as urban and industrial development continues to grow. According to Growing Central Queensland, the group charged with investigating the projects, Rookwood and Eden Bann represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build water infrastructure in Central Queensland.
In terms of economic potential, northern Australia is our nation's next pioneer frontier. In terms of location, northern Australia starts from the Tropic of Capricorn. This makes Rockhampton the new gateway to northern Australia—a fact that we should be highly promoting.
The federal government's white paper on agricultural competitiveness endorses the need for water infrastructure in northern Australia through a $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund under the federal agriculture minister. In addition, there is a $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to allow major investors to access funds to build new projects under the minister for northern Australia. That is why today I called upon the federal agriculture minister, the federal northern Australia minister and the Prime Minister to back Rookwood and Eden Bann weirs near Rockhampton.
Support is also needed for Eden Bann and Rookwood at a state level. The state member for Rockhampton, Bill Byrne, is also Labor's agriculture minister in Queensland. I challenge Bill Byrne to come out and back his own city, back his own people, back his own local area and publicly support my push for Eden Bann and Rookwood weirs.
There is talk on the rumour mill that certain politicians may want to back another project in Queensland called the Nathan Dam. If the Nathan Dam gets the green light from the state government before Rookwood and Eden Bann, we may never see these weirs built. That would be detrimental to Rockhampton, the Capricorn Coast, Gladstone and their futures. That is why I call upon Bill Byrne and his Queensland cabinet to back the local project, to support Rookwood and Eden Bann. Preliminary estimates indicate that the cost of Nathan Dam is $630 million and the dam will supply only 66,000 megalitres of water while, in comparison, Rookwood Weir would cost an estimated $238 million and provide 86,000 megalitres at full capacity. Rookwood and Eden Bann are the only two water projects in Queensland to have environmental impact statements for agriculture.
I am prepared to cooperate with all levels of government across all political platforms to ensure that this project has the highest priority in Queensland. If we can, through such cooperation, secure a water supply for agriculture and urban use, we will have a stronger, more diverse future for local businesses and jobs in the Rockhampton, Livingston and Gladstone regions.